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Lightning strikes black hole: 10 misconceptions about science

By Edited Feb 2, 2016 0 0

Black holes do not suck up everything around them like some all-powerful space vacuum cleaner. In fact, since they are formed from dying stars collapsing in their own gravitational fields, they can only exert the same force as the star they are formed from (and in reality, as this process is an explosive one, they actually have less mass – and therefore less gravity - than their parent star).

Lightning frequently strikes the same place twice. Given that most landscapes have natural conductors – trees, pylons, buildings etc – the chances of the same thing object being struck again are quite high. Sidenote: you are twice as likely to be killed by an asteroid as you are by lightning.

The speed of light is not always constant. In fact it depends entirely on the medium it is in; in a perfect vacuum it travels at its top speed of 300 000 km / second. In sodium at -272 degrees C it goes at a sluggish 60 km/h.

Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. Chimps are actually a parallel line of evolution, our last common ancestor being Ardipithecus about 5 million years ago. Since then both chimpanzees and (obviously) humans have evolved along different paths: chimps to become more aggressive and better at climbing, humans to become more aggressive and better at Pop Idol (though sometimes it's a close thing).

Albert Einstein didn't fail maths at school. He excelled, of course: when asked about his 'failure' (mentioned in a newspaper column at the time) he replied “before I was fifteen I mastered differential and integral calculus” - which goes to show you can't believe everything you read in the papers.

A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will not build up enough momentum to crack a human skull (or the pavement, for that matter). As the top speed of a penny in flight (its terminal velocity) is 30-50 miles per hour it cannot accumulate enough energy – this has been demonstrated in an episode of the Mythbusters TV series.

There are only 8 planets in our solar system. Long thought to not really 'fit in' with planetary classification, Pluto was downgraded to the status of Dwarf Planet in 2006.

Glass is not a slow-moving liquid, and panes of old glass are not gradually flowing towards the bottom. Though old stained—glass windows have been observed to be thicker at the bottom, this is because of imperfections in the process of manufacture; sometimes the thicker part can be found at the side or the top.

Evolution is not a case of going from simple to complex organisms. It describes the twin processes of descent with modification and natural selection that Darwin described, and modification doesn't necessarily mean complexity. As an example, marbled lungfish have a much larger genome size than human beings do.

Meteorites are not always hot when they reach the earth's surface. Having been in the near absolute zero (-273 degrees C) temperatures of space, it is only their surface that gets warmed when they pass through our atmosphere, and even this hot crust may break off as they fall. The

Big Bang theory does not explain the origin of the Universe. Indeed, this remains one of the more intriguing mysteries of science, and the BB theory is only concerned with the very early origins of the Universe not what caused it in the first place.

Water in toilets does not swirl in the other direction in the opposite hemisphere. The Coriolis effect does describe how the Earth's rotation affects large bodies of water or weather sytems (and their rotation), but it doesn't apply on such a small scale as your toilet or bath tub. Despite what The Simpsons says.

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